Lost Illusions

.After having gone through this rapid transformation of every card in sight to the Nine of Clubs, you stop and explain that the whole thing has been an optical illusion. With your right hand, use the Nine to flip the cards on the table face up. Actually, you execute a variant of the wild card turnover (an idea I believe is original): The right hand slips the double-facer under the three tabled cards (Figure 11), lifts all four cards slighdy and turns over with the entire packet. The right fingers immediately push the upper three cards off die Nine oi Clubs and slide diem onto the table (Figure 12). The right hand is left holding the face-up Nine, and on the table are seen the direeTwos (die uppermost being the double-facer). The Nines have changed hack to Twos again! C/include rhe turnover sequence by turning your ri^hr hand palm up and the Nine face down.

While attention is focused on your turning over of the Twos, the left fingers maneuver the deck face down while keeping the hand palm up. After performing the turnover switch, keep your right hand stationary, holding the face-down Nine. Then move your left hand in a diagonal direction, forward and to the right, carrying the deck past the right hands Nine (Figure 13). In passing, the Nine is top changed for an indifferent card.

At the end of its trip the left hand turns the dedk face up and ribbon spreads it across the table, from right to left. Keep die first few cards bunched together as you make this spread, to hide the Nine at die right end. While you spread the cards, say, "As you can see, there is not a single Nine of Clubs in the pack/

Then turn over the card in your right hand. "This isn't a Nine eidier. In fact, there has never been a Nine of Clubs in the deck. It has all been an optical illusion, just our imaginations." While saying this, drop the right hands cani onto the spread and quickly gather the deck.To the audience, the effect seems over, and during the consequent relaxation this belief causes, you can safelv top palm the Nine of Clubs. Conclude the routine by producing the Nine from your pocket, almost as if the action were an afterthought.

E have all heard about Dr. Pavlov s famous dogs, who always heard a bell ring just before diey were fed. After a while, rhe dogs became so accustomed to hearing die bell at feeding rime, just its sound caused their mouths to water. Pavlovian conditioning is common in humans as well.

You might be surprised to hear that the Pavlov effect can be a valuable tool for improving your magic First you must understand diat there is a great difference between practicing your magic at home and performing it in front of an audience. This is something you will have found out if you've ever performed in front of a group. Before a show anticipation of making diis change from mirror to live audicnce can arouse a number of problems: anxiety, severe nervousness, tension, unhappiness, etc.

When performing, it is extremely important that you feel at ease and happy—and that is easier said than done. The first step toward attaining the proper state of mind is, of course, to work out all the bugs in your magic, so that virtually nothing can go wrong. You can discover rhe vast majority of problems through thorough rehearsal. A basic rule of performance is that anything that can go wrong, some day will. The more you rehearse, the better the chance for that unexpected thing to go wrong at home rather than before an audiencc. That is how it should be. Practice is not so much the process of learning a trick. Rather, learning is just the first stage of practice. One of die main features of practice and rehearsal is discovering what can go wrong. When something docs go awry, find a way to stop it from ever happening again. And if diat isn't possible, work out an cmcrgcncy measure to cover diese circumstances the next time they occur. Sometimes solving the problems will mean changing the method .slightly; other times the changes may have to be dramatic.

Now suppose youVe made certain that your tricks will work and you've combed out all the bugs. You might still discover that you're not at ease in front of a living breathing audience. Experience will help, of course. Once you've performed the trick many times for an audience, you'll eventually feel at ease with it. But that takes rime.

As they say, though, "When you start something new, you have to go through hell, but there's no reason to stay in hell any longer than absolutely necessary." The use of the Pavlov effect can shorten the break-in time of a new trick and help to put you at ease as quickly as possible. The idea is simple: Force yourself to be happy when you practice! Always

make yourself feel good. How do you force yourself to be happy? Simple. Play some music you like, sing along with it, clap your hands, dance around die room. Take a few good deep breaths of air, fdl yourself with oxygen and energy. Be happy. I hen start practicing!

When you practice a move or sleight, you can keep the music on if you feel that it helps to sustain your happy mood. However, whatever you do, make sure you're feeling good.

All this may seein a bit silly, but 1 firmly believe it can be of great help. If you always feel happy when doing something, if you feel good about doing it, later, under circumstances in which it might be a bit harder to feel cheerful and at ease, such as when you begin to perform, thanks to the Pavlov effect the familiar feeling of happiness will automatically well up inside you.

Also, never practice to the point of exhaustion. This will only create emotional links between your practice and negative feelings. Never practice when you arent feeling good. The idea may seem strange at first, but if you are always happy in rehearsal, the good feeling will return whenever you do a show!

N 1977 Paul Harris published a truly revolutionary method for doing the Torn and Restored Card effect, a method that uses only one unprepared card, making the trick impromptu and extremely practical. Since its publication, its merits have been widely recognized by magicians, and it has become a modern classic. I imagine that many readers of this book are familiar with it; and for those who aren't, I haven't the right or the inclination of denying them the pleasure of discovering it and Mr. Harris's other wonderful ideas in his book SupcrMagic (see "The Ultimate Rip-off", p. 63; or the forthcoming three-volume set of his collected works). I will, chough, offer some small changes in the method that, although minor, will significandy improve the effect.

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